Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2023/ Commerce Bad Actor: Home Depot

To: Customer Service
The Home Depot Canada Inc.
400 - 1 Concorde Gate
Toronto, Ontario
M3C 4H9

Dear Customer Service Department,

I am writing to report an unpleasant experience I had at your Kitchener West store yesterday. I wanted to purchase a [REDACTED] that I had seen on your website. I did not have sufficient cash on hand to pay for the purchase, and I do not have a debit or credit card, so I thought of paying by personal cheque. I looked up information online about whether I could pay by cheque, and some sources said I could with photo ID. In particular, your site at reads:

Cheques with the customer’s name, address, and phone number preprinted on the cheque can be accepted, but only with a valid photo ID., Credit card and counter cheques are not accepted. Cheques cannot be used for gift cards. Merchandise cannot be refunded for a minimum of fourteen (14) days after payment.

Knowing the trip would be a significant trip for me, I confirmed that you would take cheques by calling into the store. The customer service representative confirmed that if paying at the cashier I should be able to pay by cheque, although he did not know that I needed valid ID, and suggested I didn't.

Having received confirmation in two different ways, I went to the store and attempted to purchase the [REDACTED]. You can guess what happened next. I do not have a driver's license, but I do have a valid Canadian passport, which is valid photo ID which I regularly use for situations like identifying myself at my bank or voting in elections.

I went to the store and attempted to pay for my purchase. This caused some confusion, but I was told I could pay by cheque, so I wrote the cheque. Then I was told that I needed a driver's license, because something in your computer system wanted some number (something involving a province and then something else?), and it would not accept my passport information. I was feeling more and more embarrassed. Three associates had gathered to try and figure out to run a cheque through the system, and there were people behind me in line waiting for a cashier. Eventually I was told that I could not pay for my purchase, so I took my cheque back and left the store.

Look. I understand that you will want to blame me for this situation here. I understand that in 2023 most people pay for purchases using debit or credit cards, and that most people (especially those shopping at the Home Depot) will drive cars and thus use their drivers licenses as photo ID. I also understand that cheques bounce, so you want additional protections against fraud when people pay by cheque. Nonetheless, I feel I did my due diligence. I received confirmation that I would be able to make my purchase in two separate ways. Nowhere was there any indication that my photo ID (which is valid Canadian ID issued by the federal government) would not be good enough for you. Other than a driver's license, I still have no idea what kind of photo ID would satisfy you. I am guessing that the identification cards issued by the Ontario government might work, but I do not know for sure (and I do not have one of those cards).

With one exception, I do not place blame for this on the staff at the Kitchener West store. They were helpful and friendly towards me as I went through this debacle. The one exception is the customer service representative who answered the phone: he gave me outright misinformation by telling me I could pay by cheque and would not need a photo ID.

On the other hand, I place a significant amount of blame on your website and your computer systems. Your website did not clarify the kind of photo ID that you consider "valid". Your computer system inhibited me from making my purchase because it demanded some field that was not available on my legal, current, government-issued photo ID. (In fact this is the second time your computer systems has made it difficult for me to give you money, but that is another story.) Furthermore, the computer system wanted me to write and sign the cheque before indicating what forms of photo ID would be valid.

One of the reasons I patronize brick and mortar stores at all is because I pay for things using cash or cheques, so making purchases on the Internet is difficult. But you certainly have not been making this easy for me, and I am kind of fed up. If I can't make purchases at your store then that is fine; please provide accurate information on your website so that I can save myself the travel and embarrassment of a futile purchase attempt.

Sincerely Yours,

Paul Nijjar